Jon Huntsman Death Watch

Despite media enthusiasm for his candidacy, Jon Huntsman has never been a serious contender for the Republican presidential nomination. His political positions are too moderate, his persona is too conciliatory, and his service in the Obama administration makes him anathema to most of the Repubican base. To wit, the former Utah governor has never polled above 5 percent among GOP primary voters.

With in mind, it wouldn’t be wrong or even premature to read this campaign change as the beginning of the end for Huntsman 2012:

Today at the Prospect

  • Jamelle Bouie explains why Obama is going to win in 2012.
  • Patrick Caldwell argues that space exploration has value beyond just getting to Mars.
  • Robert Kuttner writes that the debt crisis in Europe is reaching the point of no return.
  • Paul Waldman celebrates Marshall McLuhan's 100th birthday by explaining how his work is relevant to modern media.

Winning the Battle but Losing the War

When 62 percent percent of Americans agree that the Republican Party should compromise on budget negotiations, it’s obvious that President Obama is winning the politics of the debt-ceiling negotiations. On the other hand, when 47 percent of Americans say that spending cuts will create jobs – as they did in the most recent Washington Post/ABC News survey – it’s clear that Obama is losing the larger ideological battle over the role of government.

Happy Birthday, Marshall McLuhan

In my column today, I note that today would be Marshall McLuhan's 100th birthday. I found this fantastic clip from a 1960s Canadian Broadcasting Company program, in which a couple of guys right out of Mad Men (including one wearing a tie so skinny it must have been constructed by miniaturization engineers at the University of Toronto) talk about the transition from the "age of the book" to our current, hyper-mediated age, then interview McLuhan. It has a remarkably high-minded tone, one you'd have trouble finding on television today:

Double Twitter

I once joked that the logical extension of Twitter was a service called Blurter, where all posts were limited to one character. Sure, you could see what someone has to say via their Twitter feed, but wouldn't it be quicker to get Lady Gaga's message, "U"? Both concise and intriguing. Now, Farhad Manjoo suggests something radical: What if Twitter doubled their character limit? The 140-character limit came from the pre-smartphone era, when the service's creators thought people would all be using it by sending SMS messages, which were limited to 160 characters. But that's no longer true:

The Wonders of Local Government

One of the things we often hear is that government is best when it's closest to the people. Your local city government is going to be more responsive than your state government, which in return will be more responsive than the feds in Washington. This may be true in some ways, but it's also true that state and local government can be more corrupt and more dysfunctional, in part because there's less scrutiny. And also, on a local level, it's often not hard to get elected, which means your elected officials can be flat-out nuts:

Be careful before starting a Boy Scout troop in Gould, Ark. Or a Harry Potter fan club. Or a baseball team.

What About House Republicans?

After months of negotiations, a bipartisan group of senators known as the “Gang of Six” has released its plan for long-term debt reduction. The proposal is in line with previous recommendations from the Simpson-Bowles Commission. It includes $500 billion in discretionary spending cuts, cuts to Medicare (which can include an increase in the eligibility age) and unspecified Social Security reform. It also contains revenue increases, broad-based tax reform, and discretionary spending caps with a trigger that will kick in by 2015 if deficit reduction isn’t on track.

Courage on the Campaign Trail

While I hesitate to complain about standard-issue candidate hyperbole, I just can't help myself on this one. Here's Michele Bachmann's latest Iowa campaign ad:

Free the JSTOR Four Million!

The news that Aaron Swartz, a technologist and activist involved in the early days of Reddit and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, has been indicted in Boston for allegedly breaking into an MIT wiring closet and downloading in excess of four million academic journal articles from JSTOR while a student at, wait for it, Harvard's Center for Ethics, brings to mind a profile of information activist Carl Malamud that ran in TAP just about a year ago:

There's More to Poverty Than Just Money

As Washington fights about which benefits to cut for low-income families, the Heritage Foundation throws an assist by arguing – in typical conservative fashion – that poor people can’t be poor if they own consumer electronics and air conditioning:

Rules and Norms on Capitol Hill

Jonathan Bernstein assesses GOP strategy, with a great baseball story:

Today at the Prospect

  • Paul Starr explains the twisted psychology behind the Balanced Budget Amendment.
  • Gabriel Arana asks why it took an undercover investigation to bring to light Bachmann's anti-gay views.
  • Anna Clark looks to the future of American women's soccer after the World Cup.

The List of Supporters for Ignoring the Debt Ceiling Grows

Bill Clinton offered his take Tuesday for how he would solve the debt ceiling: Oder the Treasury to keep issuing debt under the 14th Amendment, which states: "The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned." Some have interpreted this Civil War-era language to mean the debt ceiling is unconstitutional, and that it is within Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's power to continue issuing debt to

Liberals for Hedge-Fund Manager Rights

Feeling like you haven't been disappointed by a Democrat in too long? Well let me help you with that. One of the suggestions that has been floated as part of a deal to reduce the deficit is the elimination of the "carried interest" loophole. It works like this: If you're a hedge-fund manager, you make your money by taking 20 percent of the profits of the fund you manage. This can be a lot of money -- hedge-fund king John Paulson made over $5 billion last year. But unlike the little people, hedge-fund managers don't pay federal income taxes on that income.

New Polls on Debt Ceiling Show Ground Shifting

The basic structure of the debt-ceiling debate has always been advantageous for Republicans. It's abstract, which is good for them (they win when debates about government are abstract, but lose when they're specific -- "cutting spending" is popular, "cutting Medicare" is not). It features gridlock and bickering, which seems to validate all their complaints about government; as the party of government, Democrats end up being punished even for Republican failures and obstruction.